ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: Honda range
Around 95 per cent of all Hondas sold in the UK are built at the company’s Swindon plant. DAVID HOOPER catches up with some of the company’s latest models.
HONDA may be a Japanese manufacturer, but some of its most popular models are built at its Swindon plant here in the UK.
These include the ever popular Jazz and he CR-V, but the headline act has to be the Civic – a completely new version of which has gone on sale this year, marking the ninth generation of the model.
The previous incarnation raised eyebrows and set tongues wagging in equal measure due to its space age design, and this latest Civic is no less radical in its looks, both outside and in.
People who declare all cars look the same these days need to pop along to their Honda dealer and give the new Civic a once-over. As they leave, even if they haven’t bought one, they’ll be chewing vigorously on their words. The car looks like nothing else on the road – it’s also better to drive than the model it replaces.
At a driving day in Leeds recently, I had the chance to sample most of the range, including the 1.4 petrol, 1.8 petrol which complemented my road test of the incredibly good 2.2-litre diesel engine which emits less C02 than a VW Golf BlueMotion!
One of the cars available to drive was a one-off special that was created for the Goodwood Festival. Finished in white, it was trimmed with carbon-fibre effect touches, and embellished with a red leather interior. It looked superb, and even though the mechanicals were standard, I think that if it were to be produced as a limited edition model, it would sell well.
More refined, easy to drive yet still distincitively different, you won’t feel like one of the herd at the wheel of a Civic. Have you seen its dashboard?
The large CR-V has getting towards the end of its life with a new model in the pipeline, but it’s still a smart looking car, comfortable to travel in and thanks to the 2.2-litre diesel engine in the model I drove, easy to drive and economical to run.
The raised seating position provides a good vantage point from which to observe the goings-on around you, while the plush leather seats are a boon. People like the chunky looks of 4x4s, but don’t necessarily like the running costs, but this Honda provides the best of both worlds.
I hold this model in particularly high regard as it got me home in a heavy snowfall a couple of years ago when most other vehicles around me were grinding to a halt in the slippery conditions that beset Harrogate.
We had been away for the weekend and the weather went from blue skies and sunshine to six inches of snow in a couple of hours. It was that bad we seriously thought about booking into a nearby hostelry for the night as the roads were quickly becoming impassable, but we navigated our way around the main roads, and the four-wheel-drive CR-V was absolutely superb.
Click here to read the full review: Honda CR-V
Another favourite from the Honda stable is the Jazz which is a popular model thanks to its practicality, versatility and slightly raised seating position which makes getting in and out easier than is the case with many family saloons. Most of the range is built in the UK, but the Hybrid model is still imported from Japan.
Honda’s manufacturing plant in Swindon builds around 95 per cent of all the cars the company sells in the UK and the arrival of the ninth generation of the Civic saw the introduction of a second shift at the plant, which in turn prompted the recruitment of 500 new employees, or Associates, as Honda calls them.
With a strong reputation for quality and reliability, it demonstrates that British workmanship can still compete with the best in the world.